Skip to main content

The Rise of Capitalism

This past week in contemporary literature, we delved into Donald Barthelme's comedy of death and sex in elementary ed. Which is to say, we read, "The School" and "Me and Miss Mandible." George Saunders (see "The Perfect Gerbil") might argue that Donald Barthelme's tension doesn't rise quite so much in "The Rise of Capitalism" as it does in "The School," but he certainly has some good thoughts and sentences throughout. Let's call it a fine blend of comedy and tragedy, or at least melodrama, belly whoops, and rage. I found the text online and also as a video reading from an anonymous fan.

Of course, a guy published continually in The New Yorker can afford to add a little whimsy to his capitalist gloom. Homeboy (he was born in Philly, but he was almost dead before I even knew he was a writer) went through a pile of wives and held the central position in letters that half of literary fiction writers would die for. If he was miserable and crushed by deadlines and alimonies, so be it.

In the end about all you can say about The Dead Father is, "Heck of a writer. Genius. Pure. That Donny B. could write his ass so far off it'd carry his cojones halfway to the heavens before floating back down to fertile ground."

But back to capitalism, I suppose that the profit motive is a main reason the other restaurants used cheap noodles to drive the respectable proprietor out of business in J.A. Pak's short tale of the woes of pho. The owner-turned-server is dismayed in a more straightforward way than Donald Barthelme's ironic narrator of "The Rise of Capitalism," but both stories leave us with doubt and fear about "the system."

From the Barthelme: "Capitalism arose and took off its pajamas. Another day, another dollar. . ."

Speaking of which, I need to lie down before I finally get out of the house.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Top Ten Russian Novels!

L.U.S.K. is excited to feature a guest post from Aisha O'Connor-Fratus, writer, editor, parent, and blogger at Hell's Domestic Backside. Enjoy this list of Aisha's ten favorite Russian novels:
1. Anna Karenina (Lev Tolstoy, 1873 to 1877). Anna is rich and bored. Anna hates the way her husband chews his food. Count Vronsky—played by Christopher Reeve, so handsome) sweeps Anna off her feet! But things do not end well for Anna.
2. The Brothers Karamazov (Fyodor Dostoevsky, 1880). Not about a traveling circus acrobatic troupe. Its sweeping explorations of God, free agency, and morality are timeless and haunting. My favorite part is Ivan’s reciting of the poem “The Grand Inquisitor” in which Christ is resurrected during the Spanish Inquisition.
3. Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky, 1866). Life-long graduate student Rodion Raskolnikov tries to justify an unspeakably immoral act with eugenics and hey—a guy needs to eat.
4. Rudin (Ivan Turgenev, 1856). Dmitry Rudin talks the talk, but…

The Writing Life Starring Iain Levison

Iain Levison's Dog Eats Dog was published in October, 2008 by Bitter Lemon Press and his even newer novel How to Rob an Armored Car will be published by Soho Press in October, 2009. Back in '00 or so, L.U.S.K. first discovered Levison's A Working Stiff's Manifesto in hardcover with its original subtitle, "Confessions of a Wage Slave." That memoir established Levison's scalding wit and ability to hold the attention of an ever-tweeting audience. It was later released as a trade paperback with a supercharged second subtitle, and Levison has managed to survive, publish, and publish again. With long-terms roots in Scotland and Philadelphia, Levison currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina where he commits literature and carpentry as much as he can.

USK: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and when did you first identify as a writer?
IL: Writing is the only thing I've ever been any good at. Well, the only legal thing. Early on, I realized t…